Tag Archives: jarocho

Living well in L.A.

You doubt it no? Disbelievers…L.A. can sometimes be one of the best cities in the world, and I say that because of everything I have ever written about it, both heartbreaking and heartlifting, who would want only one or the other in their life? You’d cut your wrists with the first and stare at the world through the translucent walls of your bubble in the second without ever truly living. This weekend I remembered once again why I love it so much…again full of writing and struggle and dancing and art and friends and dragon boats and…I can’t even tell you how much fit into this weekend.

Political truth (my own truth with a little ‘t’ though I think it might deserve capitalization): every community should have a central place to gather, to laugh, to eat, to dance…it is the distance between us that makes control so easy, that makes poverty such a burden, that allows each of us to suffer believing that we are alone…the more we come together the stronger we will be, and the better we can plan.

Personal truth: happiness could easily be as simple as live music every weekend, surrounded by friends that are family, and a little bit of dancing, preferably under the sky. And if the music be a mix of jarocho and cumbias and zapoteada and some old mariachi favourites to belt along with…well, so much the better.

Combine those two and you end up with my Saturday between 11 and 2 in the neighborhood I have worked in for years upon years and where we had established the Displacement Free Zone, saje and the land trust threw a little block party and it was small but lovely and we danced, first to jarocho with it’s amazing politics and message and it was a joy

and then to…se me olvide agarrar su tarjeta, I shall have to find out who they were…to the backdrop of Henry’s market. You can buy pretty much anything at Henry’s, and I mean anything. The Harpy’s feel pretty strongly that their tag needs to be covering that clear green wall, which is why it is white down below. I’d like to suggest they add a red stripe and an eagle, there’s no other excuse for such a shade of green…

and here is one of the women I most admire in the world, who danced the entire time and knows how to zapotear like no one, and has more heart and courage and knowledge than almost anyone I know…beauty along with it:

Monic dancing…

So I wasn’t sure the weekend could get much better…but I went over to Bev’s after. The fact I had destroyed my bike’s innertube first thing in the morning made this a bit slower, and it made me a bit sad, but I overcame. And then I was stung by a wasp on the walk over…how many years has it been since that happened? Took me back to the old desert days, I have been stung by almost everything but I shall tell those stories later. Or never. People who didn’t grow up in glorious yet hostile environments where everything can hurt you rarely seem to enjoy those stories. So I hung out happily sorry for myself with some ice in a towel pressed against my shoulder. Wasps hurt a wee bit more than I remember.

Through a strange and complicated turn of events Bev and Samantha were going to be rowing in the Dragon boat races at the lotus festival in Echo Park and had come back from practice, so we all headed over to a BBQ at one of their new team-mates’ houses. Turns out that everyone else rowing had worked for Mayor Bradley back in the day (and I mean back in the day), so the BBQ that we (well, I) had crashed turned out to be a more formal sort of dinner with the most amazing food. And then council member Wendy Gruel turned up with her family. Now this may not seem so exciting to most, but you have probably not done as many delegations to city council members where you sought to speak to them in vain about important issues, or carried out long power analyses where Gruel was invariably one of those that should be on our side but could always go the other way…at any rate, the irony was delicious, as was the wine. Also turns out that the following day’s race was to be a race to the death against Gloria Molina’s office, and in fact Michael (enthusistic team head), had flown in from DC just to paddle in this race and destroy the Molinistas in this rematch (after 15 years or so)…turns out me and those with me were all too young to remember Bradley but a few of us also had some serious beef with Molina (the rest could care less), so we joined together in a toast to the county supervisor’s bitter and inglorious defeat…

You’ll have to wait a bit for the outcome of that, first because I want to see the effect on my readership (cliffhangers seem to work for the networks after all), second because I’m tried, but most importantly because we then had to go see Luke in his play/sketch comedy “Touched in the Head” in a tiny theatre on Santa Monica, and we laughed…there was a fabulous sketch about the horrors of cat rape, and the victims were Tony the Tiger and Garfield and Tom and the Cat in the Hat…every male cat you can imagine in fact. My other favourite was a pyromaniac chola who comes to give a motivational speech to 1st graders about all the things they should set on fire when people talk shit to them. If it hadn’t been the last night I would have recommended it highly!

Still not done, cos it’s almost Laura’s birthday, so it was off to Highland Park to celebrate it with her and a ton of other people…there were cumbias playing in the front room, old soul playing on the back patio, watermelon soaked in vodka and negro modelo and rum mixed with lots of other things, there were friends and family, people I knew and people I didn’t know at all, all of them the kind of people you’d like to know. We left just after midnight, I was tired and Bev was paddling for glory and Jose just went along with it…

A brilliant day yesterday. Today was brilliant too. Maybe I’ll get to it tomorrow…

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witchcraft and jarocho

My Friday was a bit magical!  First I found a football (soccer) friend who actually likes football and not just football players and we’re off to see Barcelona play las Chivas on August 6th.  Hooray!  And Manu Chao is coming in concert and I’m going to that too!  Second, late afternoon whiled away chatting with one of the tenants I work with and Gloria and the subject was brujeria (witchcraft).  One day back home in her pueblo, years ago, her aunt’s stomach swelled and swelled as though she were pregnant but she was not, her stomach swelled and her legs bent and she began to appear as a giant toad, dark magic and the curandero told them the ceremony they needed to carry out to rid her of the evil, and said that when the animal within emerged from her mouth as the cure was working it would run immediately to the home of those who had set this upon her, and if the family followed it they would know who had cursed her, but they allowed its dark shape to flee without discovering where it went, prefferring to leave vengeance to God…her grandmother died of brujeria, having a small spot over her lip and modern medicine could do nothing to cure it as it spread and spread across her face consuming flesh, eating up her left eye and when she did go to the curandero it was already too late and nothing could be done.  She had been told as a child she would die after going through seven metates, and as the seventh dwindled her spirit and body also…

Gloria believes in God not in witches, but told of the department in Honduras called Olancho where vengeance is a way of life and entire families have been killed, one by one by one in a cycle of killing for a killing for a killing, and so when anyone does anything terrible it is asked of them tu vienes de Olancho o que?  And fathers will not allow their daughters to marry men who come from Olancho…

And the evening, despedida for Kique and Paige and the night was warm and the orange trees blooming and the beer cold and the carne asada hot and delicious, and Ceci and her friends played jarocho for us, pics coming soon…jarocho comes from the east coast of Veracruz, played on the jarana, a mezcla of indigenous and African beats, a music of resistance, drums were outlawed by the spaniards who knew their power of rebellion so the music is entirely played on the voice and the jarana, but a wooden platform is set up and the percussion comes from the feet of the dancers…it is the same beat hammered out as that of Afro-cuban music and much speeded up the samba from Brazil.  I learned to zapotear a bit, then sat on the front porch of Kique’s house with friends, my Bohemia in my hand talking shit of course, my nonexistant Surena tattoo, and my DJ name la green eyes, or la juedilla de la guerrilla…am a little fragile this morning but life is so good!